When the “Love Tank” Runs Dry

Michael Beck

If there is one place where God’s sufficiency must constantly replace our insufficiency, it is in the love department. Our love is so dependent on what our eyes see. When we see beauty of any kind our love tank fills. We adore our darling little niece (she’s such a cute little angel.) We love our incredible sports team (they’re playing “lights out.”) We’re head over heels with our fiance (she makes us swoon.) But what happens when our little angel becomes a bigger “devil;” our team starts to stink; and the lovely lady’s beauty is perhaps only skin deep? Our reservoir of love can quickly empty.

Man’s love is insufficient when it faces a “multitude of sins.” When we are ignored or neglected, rebuffed or criticized we become indignant, and the love tank that was just gushing a moment before can suddenly develop quite a leak. When our love is not reciprocated, when we are not rewarded or responded to in a way we think we should be, our love tank can freeze and we can quickly become as “cold as ice.” When others don’t change as quickly as we would like, when the “multitude of sins” won’t stop growing, we can decide, once and for all, to pull the plug in the love tank. Talk about “ups and downs!” If there is anything that can get turned off as quickly as it got turned on, it is the spigot in the love tank.

Those who have been loved by God when they were at their worst, are called to love others in the same manner.

What then is our problem? Just this: our love is too dependent on the object it is supposed to love. When that object is lovely, it is loved. When it becomes ugly in our eyes, we despise and turn away from it. But God’s love is different. His love for us is not dependent on our love for Him. His love is dependent on His own perfect nature. God is love. He loves not because He is loved, He loved us while we were still far from what He wanted us to be. Does He have a standard of beauty? Yes, it is the beauty of holiness. But His love for us was not dependent on His eyes seeing that beauty. He loved us even when His eyes were grieved, and when we were repulsive in His sight. If He had waited for us to become lovely or love Him in order to love us, we would never have known His love. He loved us first, as ugly and unloving as we were, to make us lovely and loving.

The love of Christ enables us to love all men, including those who have hurt or failed us. His love was most remarkable and most divine when He was not being loved. Jesus was all too aware of our tendency to love only those who first love us and treat us well. He said, “For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.” (Luke 6:32) Even people who have no relationship with God have the capacity to love those who love them or are lovely in their eyes. But that is not the test of whether we are the beloved children of God. Those who have been loved by God when they were at their worst, are called to love others in the same manner. Love those who are unlovely to your eyes and who are failing to love you as they should.

By the supply of Christ’s Spirit, your love tank never needs to run dry.

God does not expect anyone’s natural supply of love to be sufficient in this life. If we had what it takes to face life in this world, with all its disappointment, hurt and offenses, we would not need a Savior. But Jesus was sent, both to die for us and live in us. Be assured: you will certainly encounter many people and situations where your love is not enough. There you will make a decision: will I be like the world around me, and only love those who are lovely and loving to me, or will I receive the very love of Christ for that person who I cannot seem to love. By the supply of Christ’s Spirit, your love tank never needs to run dry.

“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.